portland vintage secrets
My secret places to shop for vintage in Portland. No, I'm not gonna say here...
I don't have to tell you that I shop at Fringe Vintage for most of my clothes/shoes/jewelry/everything. That is, I don't technically shop here, rather, I shop at the sources. The sources are many, they are near, and they are far. Some you already know about, a few you will never have access to, some you may not yet know about but do have access to, and all of them I consider to be my little secrets. Until now. It's high time I talked about something useful, and I don't mind telling you where I shop, when, and exactly where I go for what. Like I said, you guys already know about these places. I know. It's not uncommon that I see things at vintage stores in Portland that I myself had almost purchased just weeks before! No mistaking it. I sorta love that about this city; you don't have to worry about beautiful things being taken for granted--if I don't buy it someone else will. So here we go. We're gonna do this one thing at a time. That means one secret per secret entry. Today, shoes. Best place for *bargain (I'm ALWAYS on a strict budget)* vintage shoe shopping in the Portland area.
Value Village, Vancouver Washington (the one near the HUGE auto mall). It takes about 15 minutes to get to this place via automobile, and you can make it into a day trip by stopping at the Goodwill on NE Fourth Plain Blvd. on your way in or out.
So this place is great! Their shoe selection is HUGE first of all, and second of all, this is like the least depressing thrift store ever. Their motto is "A Thrift Department Store" or something like that. This is totally brilliant, though so obviously false, because, as is apparent when you walk through the doors, the Village is still just a very stinky thrift store, apart from its lofty warehouse-like space that makes you feel like you're in a mall or very large department store. It must be the motto and the space that makes it such a happy place for me. Yeah--I'm TOTALLY in a department store right now! Let's pretend!
The event is few and far between that I ever strike out on shoes here. There have been times when I've gone looking for a specific style, and have actually found it! This is pretty much unheard of in the shoe thrifting world. Most of the time I end up loading the cart with super extra goodies for the Fringe too. It's seriously hard to resist the long shelves on the walls lined with shoes. They're usually always color coded and correctly sized, and they have a fairly good selection above a size 9. As far as prices go, the Village is definitely on the higher side when compared to most Goodwills and other ma and pa thrift stores. The women's shoes can often be the exception to this rule. You're usually looking at spending an average of $6 per pair, make that about $10 for boots, depending on how decked out they are. Men's shoes, on the other hand, are always much higher priced, and are rarely in good condition. But miracles do present themselves--one time Jeremy found a pair of patent leather FILA high tops circa 1992! Killer. This is definitely not the best place around Portland to buy men's vintage shoes though.
The Village has a diverse selection, and diversity is always the key to a good experience when shopping for vintage at thrift stores. That's because diversity often equals vintage. I'm not sure where they get their stuff. I do know it's mostly all bought, which accounts for their higher prices, but they must get it from all over the place and don't just wait for it to show up on their doorstep. If the store isn't necessarily relying on the community to keel over and then choose to donate their stuff, then basically what you get is a huge thrift store that is searching out things to sell, and when it comes to finding good vintage, as a rule, the more filters the better. Basically, what you get is what's left over after all the welfare mamas have pulled the trendiest crap. The leftovers are always the bestovers for vintage freaks! Of course another reason for this particular Village's wealth of diversity is simply due to its location. Way fewer hipsters in Vancouver.
So this place is a gold mine for diversity, but its also a gold mine for SERIOUS bargains! Sunday is their sale day. 50% OFF a certain color tag. You can figure out the weekly color patterns yourself through observation, or you can just ask a week ahead of time and they'll usually let the secret slip. That way you can scope out what you want, and then you'll have more time and more cash to really spend your sale day wisely. 50% is good, but $.99 is better. Tuesdays you get whatever is left over of that color for this fraction of a dollar price. Fucking sweet. Best day to go ever. But remember to get their early, cuz this isn't really a secret to anyone anymore. ALWAYS check out the shoes on Tuesdays. You will find something rad for a dollar. If you bring in something to donate you can also save 20%. They will literally take ANYTHING for a donation. They will probably take your disgusting old Starbucks cup.
Value Village is a huge chain that is all over the US, Canada and Australia. Its called Savers in the south, and sometimes they will actually use bags with SAVERS marked on them instead of VALUE VILLAGE. In Québec its called Village des Valeurs. Yeah, "literal" translations are always funny. Their website is pretty rad, and it has links to their other versions if your curious. And if you do go, say HI to Fred for me.
<3 fringe vintage